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Lil Nas X and the Satanic Panic Reaction



Lil Nas X recently dropped a new single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” with a music video that features Christian imagery, Lil Nas sliding down a stripper’s pole into Hell, and giving Satan a lapdance. As you might expect, Lil Nas has received a lot of backlash over this video being inappropriate and ‘devil worshipping.’ Supposedly, Lil Nas is trying to make the youth of America into devil worshipping gays.


If this rhetoric sounds familiar, it should by now. Conservatives have been complaining for years that LGBTQ people are pushing a progressive agenda just by existing in mainstream media. People fear that as more LGBTQ people become more visible, the youth will be ‘brainwashed’ and ‘turn’ gay. If that were actually true, then how in the world did we end up with LGBTQ people in a ‘straight’ society.


Increasing the visibility of LGBTQ people in media won’t turn straight people gay, but it will make LGBTQ youth less afraid to come out. There is a trend of increasing visibility of LGBTQ people and increasing LGBTQ people, but that’s simply because the more visible LGBTQ people are, the more accepting people are of LGBTQ people, and the more LGBTQ people will be able to accept their identities without societal fears and pressures.


There is also the argument that Lil Nas’ video is inappropriate for children so therefore it and content like it should be censored. Yes, the video is explicit and should not be watched by children. That said, do parents genuinely expect the music industry to cater to their children? This content is not targeted at children and if a child is watching something inappropriate for their age, then it is no one else’s responsibility but the parents to do something about it.


Lil Nas X and Cardi B are not raising your kids, so to claim that explicit artists are having more of an effect on your child than your own parenting only shows that you are a shit parent. Not only are you a shit parent, but an entitled one to expect the rest of society to cater to your expectations of what media your child consumes. 


The video and song together also speak to the backlash and history of weaponizing ‘Christian moral integrity’ against the LGBTQ community. In the song, Lil Nas is singing to a closeted lover as he’s expressing his desire to be open and free about their sexuality. In the video, Lil Nas ‘goes to hell’ (as many Christians believe LGBTQ do), but makes the most out of it by using it as a method to further express his sexuality. All the Biblical imagery and scenes serve the general message of accepting and expressing your true self despite the pressure from the powers that be.


Lil nas X has also been clapping back at some for the back lash he’s received on Twitter. The Governor of South Dakota, Kristit Noem, actually said that we are in a battle “for our nation’s soul” because Lil Nas released modified Nike Air Max 97s or “Satan Shoes” to promote the song. The shoes supposedly contain a drop of human blood and have been removed from the market for now. Lil nas replied to Gov. Noem “you’re a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!”


Responses like this show that Lil Nas knows there’s more than his “Satan Shoes” at stake here. Historically, the Satanic panic in the music industry has been used to control and exclude artists who refuse to conform to ‘appropriate’ content, outfits, and performances. In the early 80s, there was a movement against rock music by far right Christians and religious leaders who claimed the music ‘corrupted youth’ by promoting the occult and Satan.


Often, accusations of the Satanic panic are absurd distractions of morality. Sure, people are mad that Lil Nas X gave Satan a lapdance, but they’re more mad that a Black gay man is allowed to freely express himself. These people operate under the guise of ‘protecting our morals’ to silence and censor expression that doesn’t fit their ideology. Don’t believe me? Just ask yourself why the Governor of South Dakota is tweeting about Lil Nas X when there are currently 118k cases of COVID-19 and nearly 2,000 deaths in her state. Talk about priorities.

Amy Storti

Wells '21

Wells College Class of 2021 English Literature Major